Asian Fritillary (Euphydryas intermedia)

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2021 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

45557_male_Savoie_12Jul18 47098_male_Savoie_9Jul20 45529_female_Savoie_12Jul18
41757_female_Savoie_20Jul16 47108_female_Savoie_9Jul20 48729_female_Savoie_23Jul21
48727_female_Savoie_23Jul21 47115_female_Savoie_9Jul20 47152_female_Savoie_9Jul20

A rather rare and localised species that occurs in France only in the northern regions of the French Alpes. It is equally localised in the other parts of its European range in Switzerland and Austria, although its distribution extends into eastern Asia (hence the name). It has a relatively early flight period for a high altitude (1600-2100m) species, hence the condition of the only one I had seen as of 20 July 2016.

 

In 2018 I visited the same site at which I saw 41757 but, even though fifty species were seen there, intermedia was not one of them. I then went on to another known site in Savoie, and was delighted to find them in reasonable numbers, warming up in mid-morning on a patch of Alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum). They were showing very slight signs of wear despite the fact that 2018 was a very late season, and they had a habit of sitting with wings curved slightly down which made the task of getting decent photographs rather more challenging. Nevertheless, it was the highlight of my 2018 trip to the Alpes.

A second visit in 2020 to the site I had been to previously in 2018 showed intermedia in greater numbers, always a joy to see given the rarity of this species, but they were showing signs of wear even on 9 July. It would appear that 2020 was an early year in some locations and a late year in others.

It is very similar to its lowland cousin, the Scarce Fritillary (E. maturna), although their biotopes are very different and their ranges do not overlap (by some margin). Given that they have clearly evolved from a common ancestor, it is interesting to ponder how maturna is very much a lowland species and intermedia a montane (usually 2000m) species, and there are no intermediary (in terms of altitude) species. Contrast this with the Marsh Fritillary (E. aurinia) which has evolved a range of subspecies across the complete spectrum of lowland to high altitude.

The subspecies that occurs in the Alpes is wolfensbergeri.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
45557 M a male, reasonably fresh but just showing slight signs of wear. 2090
47098 M a male, in warm-up pose, very easy to photograph, but, as noted earlier, showing distinct signs of wear, and the colour dulling. 2090
45529 M a female from the same location as 45557, reasonably fresh but just showing slight signs of wear. 2090
41757 F a female, very much at the end of its flight period, but it is the first time I had seen this species, so a life-tick is to be cherished. I hope to revisit the location earlier in July at some point in the future in the hope of seeing them fresh(er) - see above. 1930
47108 F a female, distinctly more reddish overall than the male 2090
48729 F a female, at the same location as most of others on this page. As it was 23 July by the time I visited this site, my main targets were other species and I had not expected to see intermedia, even females, this late in the month. So it was a very pleasant surprise to chance upon 48729 happily sitting on the track. It was not clear what its purpose was in being there, but when it closed its wings (48727 is the underside) it was clearly taking something from the ground, not behaviour I would associate with a female, and it did appear to be a female. 2090
48727 F a female, the underside of 48729, beautifully marked and contrasted, showing why it is a close cousin of maturna. 2090
47115 F a female underside, one of my main objectives of this trip, although it was only possible to get a snap on the move. 2090
47152 F similarly to 47115, another snap of a female underside on the move. 2090

 

45557_male_Savoie_12Jul18

 

47098_male_Savoie_9Jul20

 

45529_female_Savoie_12Jul18

 

41757_female_Savoie_9Jul16

 

47108_female_Savoie_9Jul20

 

48729_female_Savoie_23Jul21

 

48727_female_Savoie_23Jul21

 

47115_female_Savoie_9Jul20

 

47152_female_Savoie_9Jul20